June 4, 2011
With issues such as FAA funding and the Next Generation Air Traffic System, or NextGen, being discussed in Congress, now is an important time to have informed legislators making decisions. To better understand how general aviation (GA) works and its importance to the national economy, legislators are joining the GA caucuses in both houses to educate their colleagues.
The House GA Caucus recently passed the 100-member mark, while the Senate GA Caucus is approaching 30 members. Senate GA Caucus co-chairs Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) sent a Dear Colleague letter in March to explain the value of GA and encourage senators to join the caucus.
"The goal of the Caucus is to work with pilots, aircraft owners, the aviation industry, and relevant government agencies to ensure a safe and vibrant environment exists for GA in our country," the two senators wrote. "The Caucus will educate members and staff on a variety of aviation issues and will provide a forum for discussion with leaders in the aviation community."
The House GA Caucus is headed by Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and John Barrow (D-Ga.). With a historic change in the House after the elections last fall, the two have had much ground to cover to rebuild the ranks.
"We’re thrilled the House GA Caucus has passed the 100-member mark in just the first four months of the new Congress, and we’re encouraged by the steady growth in the Senate," said AOPA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Lorraine Howerton. "Given how important GA is to every state and district, we will continue to recruit new caucus members in both houses."
Advocacy and Legislation
A House bill that would force FAA to go through the rulemaking process before imposing new policies for sleep disorders has passed a key committee.
The House has passed a bill requiring the TSA to consult stakeholders, including general aviation representatives, before making major changes to security policy.
Senators are demanding a written response from the Department of Homeland Security about unwarranted stops of general aviation aircraft by DHS and Customs and Border Protection.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.